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The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is now predicting that it will take 6-8 weeks to clear the massive slip that has closed the Waioeka Gorge. The temptation for drivers to use the narrow, unsealed Motu Road is already causing problems says Dave Hadfield, Gisborne District Council’s Land Transport Manager. “A vehicle has already ended up on its roof this morning on the Motu Road. An ambulance from Opotiki is in attendance they believe that there are no injuries.”
“The reality is that this road is not in any state to cope with lots of traffic. It is very windy, narrow and part of the road is next to steep cliffs. If anything goes wrong access to emergency help is very difficult. There is no cell phone coverage.”
“Vehicles travelling north from Gisborne should use SH 35 around the East Cape or SH 5 via Napier and Taupo. Both these options add 2-3 hours to the journey but are a lot less risky than getting stuck on the remote Motu Road.”
“The Motu area tends to have high rainfall. There are three river crossings along this road and if we have much rain nobody can get through. This all adds up to a huge safety risk for travellers. Already the extra traffic on the road after a wet summer is causing it to break up. It is for these reasons we have decided to close the road 13km from Matawai. This will allow Motu residents to use part of the road from the Gisborne end.”
Road barriers and signs will be put up at both ends of the road by the end of today - Tuesday 6 March.
Meanwhile Mayor Meng Foon wants to remind people that Gisborne is still 'open for business'. “There is no need for the people to be concerned about the supply of goods and services into Gisborne. NZTA is working with distributors to discuss alternative routes for them. The inconvenience and extra pressure for some business is not what Gisborne needed right now but we are resilient people and will find solutions.”